The Inner Quilt




"Arf, arf," my wife said. She was sitting at the dining room table looking through a half dozen quilting magazines that had come in the mail in the past week.

"What?" I asked. I have long ago learned to ask for an explanation of any sound she makes that I don't understand. I ask her a lot of questions.

"Woof, woof," she said.

"Are you a dog?" I asked, "And don't say, bow wow."

"Growl," she growled softly. I Iooked at her. She looked back. "I'm getting ready to quilt," she said.

"I know that," I said. I did know that. She had just the day before finished a quilt, and rarely does more than a day go by before she is ready to begin a new quilt.

"I'm trying to get to know my quilt," she said.

"Know? Know your quilt?"

"Quilts have a personality. I have to make sure this quilt has personality."

"As in charming personality? Pleasing personality? Warm-hearted personality?"

"All of that," she said.

"What kind of personality goes woof?" I asked.

"A dog does," she said.

"You want your quilt to go woof?"

"I'm trying to think like a dog," she said.

"What kind of dog?" I asked. I could have asked Darling Wife how a dog thinks, but I have trouble understand how a quilter thinks.

"A Scottie," she said.

"A Scottish Terrier," I said.

"That, too," she said. "A quilt has an inner life, a soul, and the only way to make a quilt come out right is to get to understand what kind of quilt it's going to be and how it thinks and what kind of karma is attached to it."

"Karma?" By this time I was beginning to think that my wife was pulling my leg, spoofing me, putting me on, joking.

"Everything that goes into the quilt will have a destiny, from fabric and thread to a life as a quilt, an incarnation," she said.

"America is a car nation," I said. Traffic had been terrible on the freeway that afternoon when we had gone shopping.

"Stop," she said. She stared at me, glared at me, and then gave out a long "Wooof."

"Scottish terriers were bred to catch mice and rats," I said to escape her stare.

"I'm going to make a Scottie quilt, and I need to think like a Scottie in order to do it right. But I don't have to chase mice. That's your job," she said."

"You didn't do this with your last quilt," I said.

"My last quilt had rocket ships. Rockets don't have an inner life."

"What about the eagle quilt, the chameleon quilt, and the hummingbird quilts?" I asked. I needn't have, but I am not one to deny myself more knowledge about quilting. Quilting is a strange enough pastime as it is, and the more I knew the less likely I would be to lose my mind discussing what dogs thought. No, not what a dog thought, what a quilted dog thought.

"The chameleon took extra time, but I got the quilt done."

"Did you fly like a bird when you paper-pieced the eagle?" I asked. "I don't remember you flying."

"I thought about flying. When we went to the beach I watched the pelicans fly and the seagulls and the cormorants and the egrets and the sanderlings." She smiled, the smile widening into a grin. "In a way, I soared."

I didn't remember her soaring. "Are you sure about doing a Scottie quilt?"

"For Lorie. I haven't made her a quilt yet, and she and Huck have a Scottie, so I thought I'd make her a Scottie quilt." Lorie, our niece, did indeed have a Scottie.

"So, how long will the barking go on?" I asked. I had plans to take her out for Mother's Day, but I wasn't eager to have my wife barking her way through breakfast.

"I'm almost done. I have to pick out the fabric, and that's a different procedure. I have to know what kind of fabric, what colors."

"Of course. fabrics and colors have personalities, too." That I knew. She had long before convinced me that quilts had their own lives they lived. By the look, the strength, the design, the hand of the fabric, she could tell what life was like for all her fabric.

"Brrrrr," she said then, a shiver running through her.

"Cold?" I asked. I went to close the open window behind her. It had begun to drizzle and a cold breeze was blowing into the room.

"Dogs shiver," she said strongly, somewhat agitated.

"Yes, they do," I said, wondering how she had so quickly jumped from her quilt's personality to cold dogs.

"Sweaters," she said.

"Are you all right?" I asked. She had stopped shivering, but I was beginning to worry.

"What if the Scotties are cold? They'll need sweaters, won't they?"

"I would think so," I said, willing to agree to anything to warm her up.

"Cute sweaters," she said. "Warm sweaters."


"Dry or moist," she said then, her voice calm again.

"What?" She was in another conversation already, but not, it seemed, with me.

"I wonder if Scotties like moist or dry dog food."

"Does it make a difference?" I asked.

She growled another low growl. "I want to do this quilt right," she said.

"So you have to get inside the dog, know the dog, think like the dog and develop a Scottie's personality," I asked.

"Just for a little while," she said.

"A little, little while or a long, little while?" I asked.

"Just long enough."

"Until you're done?" I asked. I thought I knew her answer. She gave it often enough. But I was wrong.

"One hour is seven hours," she said. "One year is seven years," she said. "So it may take shorter or longer."

"What?" I was confused one more time in my life.

"In doggie time," she said.

"Woof," I said.


Copyright 2005 by A.B. Silver

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